Friday, June 8, 2007

Co-Sleeping for $500, Alex

What does co-sleeping have to do with breastfeeding? Frankly, co-sleeping can make breastfeeding easier. When you co-sleep, instead of having to get up, muddle around in the dark while fumbling for your newborn, all you have to do is roll over, nurse, then roll back over and go back to sleep. That's it. Seriously. After awhile, you'll actually sleep while nursing. Oh sure, you might have to do a diaper change in the wee, early weeks, but as times goes on, you don't even have to bother with that.

Truthfully, I was going to do loads of research for this one. I was going to present a compelling argumentative dictate replete with propositions, negatives and affirmatives. Then, my inner collective got all whiny on me and said "But, I don't wannna!", so I decided to go Commando on this. What follows is merely my opinion and in addition, I've added a new category called "Ranty Pants". I'm not an expert, nor do I play one online. What prompted all this is that I came across another poorly written article that slams co-sleeping.

Okay, I'm not a co-sleeping advocate, but rather, I am a huge, colossal believer in that Good Parenting consists of gathering as many ideas as possible, then trying them out in different combinations until you find out what works for you, your partner, your child, your lifestyle. This concept of Ideas hit me like a nuclear bomb very, very early in my new life as a mother. While pregnant, I had everything planned out. Dude, I even had TIMELINES for some things. Then my son was born and I realized very quickly that babies aren't necessarily One Size Fits All. I had it all planned out that my son would sleep in the bassinet by our bed for the first 4 months, then he would transition to the crib. End of story, right? What I didn't count on was a baby who wanted to be near me ALL OF THE TIME. Crazy boy! What was he thinking? I'd already housed him for over 9 months and now this?

Fortunately, my doctor has a crunchity heart of Granola and even told me in the hospital that "We Westerners are the weird ones - the rest of the world is co-sleeping". Furthermore, my husband is from India, a land chock full of co-sleepers. My husband was the one who insisted with exasperation "just bring him to bed already." Folks, that exasperation was directed towards me and I will forever be grateful that I married someone who parents by instinct and not by books. Once I embraced co-sleeping, all was right with our world. It made breastfeeding SO MUCH easier, it eased my worries as a new mother (there was no getting up in the middle of the night to check his breathing) and we both slept peacefully. Once, I got the knack for breastfeeding while lying down, I was rarely sleep-deprived (this was at about 3 weeks or so). Not being sleep-deprived went a long, long way towards my mental health, folks. Furthermore, my son has always been a hard, solid sleeper at night - even when he transitioned to the crib (naps are another issue entirely and still are to this day. I spent a lot of afternoons crying, eating chocolate the first 6 months of his life). The transition to the crib happened gradually and wasn't necessarily planned, either. I eventually got him to nap in there, then I started putting him in there at the beginning of the night, then one evening when he was around 13 months old, I woke up at 5am to realize he hadn't woken up yet (yes, I thought he was dead, snuck in his room and promptly woke him up). Once in awhile, he still co-sleeps if he is sick or out of sorts (think Christmas Mayhem). Because of our experiences with our son, we've already decided to just play it by ear with our daughter. We'll go the co-sleeping route with her and if it doesn't work out, only then will we plunk down the dineros to buy a crib.

Listen. Co-sleeping is not for everyone. It just so happened that I am the sort of sleeper who didn't mind having a baby in bed with me. For many months, I had to end my nights early and go to bed with him - I would read in bed while he slept. It worked for both of us and yes, sometimes it sucked going to bed by 8:30pm, but the advantage was that I didn't have to give up my beloved books, either. I was probably one of the best-read new mothers going around. Besides, it also follows my Idea of Parenting that most things in life are temporary - I knew I wouldn't always be going to bed by 9pm.

Okay, so I am not a huge co-sleeping advocate who thinks everyone should be co-sleeping. What really, really ticks me off about such articles as the one I just linked to is the fact that often, they use unfair scare tactics. And who is more scared than a new mother?????? Many articles will lump all sorts of infant deaths together which can lead one to believe that by merely co-sleeping, you are putting your child at risk. For example, the article states:
......of the 30 infant deaths in 2006 and the first months of 2007, twenty were caused by "co-sleeping" with adults or in other unsafe sleeping environments.
You have to read carefully to get the point that OTHER unsafe sleeping environments were in play as well. Why did they have to lump it all together? If I hadn't been too lazy to type in tons more HREF code, I could show you many more articles that do the same thing.

Okay, without a doubt, if you have a drug or alcohol problem you should NOT co-sleep with your baby. If you are obese, you should NOT co-sleep with your baby. If your bed is super, squishy soft and loaded with comforters and pillows and is situated so high off the ground that a Princess could sleep there (Pea or No Pea), then yes, you probably should NOT co-sleep with your baby. However, I think it's wrong that these articles use such scare tactics that could frighten new parents away from what could be a perfectly viable arrangement for them. If they are going to list "co-sleeping" as a cause of infant death, I think they should list the particulars that went along with the co-sleeping. Frankly, my husband was in disbelief the first time I asked if he had ever heard of a baby being rolled over onto by his parents. Disbelief. I think he used the words "that's crazy". Again, I'm not here to push a co-sleeping agenda, but I would encourage new mothers to not be afraid of including it in their big bag of Ideas.

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